Ngee Ann Polytechnic is a higher education institution in Singapore.
Historically, a core value of Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) has been “Serving Our Community & Society”. To enable the value to be more strongly demonstrated an NP Community Service Committee was formed in 2012“ to drive NP’s community service efforts in a meaningful, purposeful and sustained manner”. The framework is designed to provide platforms and opportunities for staff involvement in community service activities on a sustained basis via NP’s partnership programmes and event-based projects to meet the needs of identified community groups.
To further support NP’s Vision and Mission to create a Great Place to Work, and Great Place to Learn, under our 4th Strategic Plan recently launched, key recommendations include “Developing a framework for Values-Education”, “Promoting Community Engagement through the Office of Service-Learning”, and “Developing/Engaging in regular and sustainable outreach events to serve NP’s community partners meaningfully (Community & Society)”. The 6 broad areas of community focus for NP include the Disabled, Low Income Children & Youth, Elderly, Foreign Workers, Mental Illness and Special Needs. The choice of the areas are based on:
Growing and unmet needs in Singapore – Elderly, Mental Illness, Disability
In the Lien Foundation Report “Unmet Social Needs in Singapore” published in 2011, mental illness and disability were 2 (out of 6) areas identified.
Specialised Knowledge – Low income Children & Youth, Special Needs
Schools and Divisions also identified communities based on their areas of expertise (Eg. Early Childhood, Early Intervention, Psychology)
Special Interest – Migrant Workers
Advocacy for better treatment of migrant workers has been a growing area of interest in students. When given the choice to select communities to work with, the foreign workers community has been one of the more popular choices.
Schools and departments may adopt organisations that work with these communities and work with them at various levels.
Community Engagement Initiatives undertaken at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP)
(Figures below are based on 2016 numbers)
Mission to Give and Legacy of Philanthropy
“Serving the community” is Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s (NP) anchor value, and embraced in our vision and mission statements. One of our 3 key graduate outcomes is to produce NP students to be a “Big-Hearted Person”.
NP foundations are strongly rooted in a heritage of giving. NP as a premier educational institution was established with the philanthropic support of Ngee Ann Kongsi[i]. Blessed by our forefathers, NP is committed to pay it forward and serve the community. The spirit of giving permeates the culture of NP. Staff, students and alumni are involved in a values-based framework which promotes a “serving beyond self” philosophy through curricular and co-curricular activities.
Strategic Framework for Community Service for Staff to drive Spirit of Giving
With the strategic intent to drive and promote more volunteerism particularly by staff (as they need to be role models), NP initiated a staff-driven NP Community Service Committee (NP ComServe) in 2012. Staff volunteer to be members of this Committee supported by Senior Management. NP ComServe has become an NP brand and a successful movement on campus involving staff and students from various schools and divisions. About 40 programmes/events were organised by staff in 2016 working with about 30 community partners. More than 50% of the staff population of 1,779 are actively involved in NP ComServe initiatives.
Active Student & Alumni Involvement in Community Service
NP has a large cluster of 8 CCA Community Service clubs with over 600 members committed to volunteerism in Singapore. In addition, during Freshmen Orientation and Induction Weeks reaching out to almost 5, 000 students, community service or advocacy programmes are injected to build empathy for needy disadvantaged. Beyond Singapore, more than 600 students have annually gone overseas on Youth Expedition Programmes (YEP) co-sponsored by the National Youth Council and NP. In 2016, NP executed 26 trip programmes reaching out to communities in need in 9 countries. Over 70% of the 14,866 NP students have participated in community service in 2016.
In AY2016, over 200 alumni had also returned to NP to support NP’s community service efforts, such as Concert in the Dark, Sports Fiesta, Arts Fiesta, Honour Film Initiatives, and others.
Bold Initiative in launching Service-Learning as a Signature Pedagogy
To build a more robust framework of giving and serving, and to support MOE Citizenship and Character Education better, NP launched Service-Learning (S-L) as a signature pedagogy. The Office of Service-Learning (OSL) was also set up to drive and coordinate S-L initiatives. From the academic year (AY) of 2016, every student will have at least one S-L module experience over their 3 years in NP (i.e each diploma should have at least one S-L module). In AY2016, 32 S-L modules were rolled out, and in AY2017, 42 modules are committed to launch S-L, impacting three quarters of the total NP student population.
NP Leaders as Role Models
All NP leaders are volunteers, together with their staff and students. To ensure NP leaders are exemplary role models with good understanding and commitment to serve the community, an inaugural Senior Leadership Service-Learning (SLSL) programme was launched beginning of 2017 to introduce S-L to the EXCO and directors. Through an experiential learning programme, 33 EXCO and directors visited community partners such as Institute of Mental Health, Singapore Prison Service, Humanitarian Organisation for Migrant Economics. They interacted with the “beneficiaries”, and returned to reflect together about their commitment to make a difference. See Annex A – Senior Leaders become students (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Wf_EYCSaAXcCbJio1PTj4Wl3xx-nQ3FV/view?usp=sharing)
NP’s Contributions in Advocacy and setting up Social Enterprises
A strong supporter of advocacy and social enterprises, NP brought in the innovative concept of Dialogue in the Dark into Singapore (DiDsg) end of 2009. Officially opened in 2010, DiD is set up as a social enterprise to give employment to the blind, and as a teaching and learning facility to raise awareness about the needs of the marginalised and to promote a more inclusive society. Each year, DiDsg runs empathy and simulation programmes for about 20,000 participants, 5,000 of which are NP students and the rest are from other educational institutions, corporates and general public. NP alumni have also founded social enterprises and community services volunteer groups/movements. Examples include Soule Enterprise”[ii], “Society Staples”[iii], “Saltsteps”[iv], “Puzzles SG”[v], Campus Psy[vi] , etc. NP supports some of these social enterprises by allowing them to set up shop on campus with token rental.
[i] The Ngee Ann Kongsi (Chinese: 義安公司) is a charitable foundation located in Singapore and governed by the Ngee Ann Kongsi Ordinance of 1933. It is one of many Overseas Chinese Kongsi, or clan associations, that were set up by immigrants from China in the late 19th century.
[ii] Soule Enterprise – founded by 3 alumni from Dips in Business & Social Enterprise (Justin Lee), Business Studies (John Tay) & Film & Media Studies (Lim Jing Ying). Their vision is to enable social change through shopping – a portion of each sale of every Soule product goes into initiatives for children living under the poverty line and survivors of natural disasters.
[v] Puzzles SG – founded by Shazlina Sulaiman (alumni of Dip in Business & Social Enterprise) and Suzana Slemat (alumni of Business Studies), Puzzles SG is a cafe in NP employing students who are hearing impaired.
[vi] Campus Psy – founded by Cho Ming Xiu, Chinese Studies Dip alumni, who started a peer support network working with educational institutions and Institute of Mental Health Institute to help youth suffering from mental health issues.